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Monday, July 27, 2015

ALBANY — New York State Bar Association President David P. Miranda has created a committee to examine the state Constitution ahead of a 2017 statewide vote over a constitutional convention.

"Although a referendum is more than two years away, the State Bar Association wants to be prepared to contribute to public understanding about how the state Constitution affects the lives of 19 million New Yorkers," Miranda said.

"The goal of the State Bar's Committee on the New York State Constitution is to serve as a resource for the Association and the public about issues relating to the 2017 referendum," he added.

The New York State Constitution is seven times longer than the U.S. Constitution and affects the daily lives of New Yorkers. It governs the state budget and borrowing, how the courts function, schools, the structure of local governments and development in the Adirondacks, to name a few areas of its influence.

It also requires that New York voters be asked every 20 years whether to hold a constitutional convention to amend, revise or replace the current constitution. Recent polling by the Siena Research Institute suggests that nearly 70 percent of New Yorkers support the idea of a constitutional convention.

Miranda has appointed Henry M. Greenberg as chair of the Committee on the New York State Constitution. Greenberg has vast government and public law experience. Among the public sector posts he has held, Greenberg served as counsel to the New York State Attorney General (2007 to 2010); general counsel for the state Department of Health (1995 to 2000); assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York (1990 to 1995); and law clerk to then-Judge (later Chief Judge) Judith S. Kaye of the state Court of Appeals (1988 to 1990). Currently, he is counsel to the Commission on Judicial Nomination, which nominates New York Court of Appeals judges.

"Hank Greenberg brings to the committee his constitutional expertise as well as professional knowledge of the Constitution's effect on the day-to-day operations of state government. I am grateful he has agreed to chair this important committee," Miranda said.

Of the committee's 26 members, the vast majority are from Albany or New York City. There are none from the eight-county area typically referred to as Western New York, however former State Bar Association President G. Robert Witmer, Jr. of Rochester is a member.

Other committee members include:

  • Past State Bar President Mark H. Alcott
  • Justice Cheryl E. Chambers
  • Former Court of Appeals Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick
  • Linda Jane Clark
  • David L. Cohen
  • John R. Dunne 
  • Hermes Fernandez 
  • Margaret J. Finerty 
  • Mark F. Glaser 
  • Former Court of Appeals Judge Victoria Graffeo
  • Peter J. Kiernan 
  • Dean Eric Lane 
  • Past State Bar President A. Thomas Levin
  • Justine M. Luongo 
  • John M. Nonna 
  • Joseph B. Porter 
  • Andrea Carapella Rendo 
  • Sandra Rivera 
  • Professor Nicholas Adams Robinson
  • Alan Rothstein 
  • Administrative Judge Alan D. Scheinkman 
  • Justice John W. Sweeney, Jr. 
  • Claiborne Ellis Walthall 
  • Past State Bar President Stephen P. Younger 

Miranda discusses the state Constitution in a brief video, which can be viewed on YouTube. (link)

The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.

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